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REVIEW: Music of the Heart – In memory of Wes Craven

September 5, 2015 1 comment
Music of the HeartDirected by: Wes Craven
Produced by: Susan Kaplan, Marianne Maddalena, Allan Miller, Walter Scheuer
Written by: Pamela Gray
Edited by: Gregg Featherman, Patrick Lussier
Cinematography by: Peter Deming
Music by: Mason Daring (score), Diane Warren (theme)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan, Aidan Quinn, Cloris Leachman, Jane Leeves, Jean-Luke Figueroa, Olga Merediz, Kieran Culkin, Charlie Hofheimer, Rosalyn Coleman, Michael Angarano, Josh Pais, Henry Dinhofer, Justin “DJ” Spaulding
Based on a true story and inspired by the 1995 documentary Small Wonders by Allan Miller
Year: 1999

 

Wes Craven was in many ways my gateway to appreciating horror. Though I had seen and enjoyed horror films prior to anything he had made, Craven was the one who enabled me to dig further into the classic slasher movies that most people think of when they discuss the genre. When I first decided to dedicate the month of October to horror films, three of the first movies I reviewed were Wes Craven-directed: The Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. During that time, my unfavorable review of the first Elm Street film actually caught the attention of a group from pretty much the fan site for the series, and this encouraged me to review a few more of the films, including the Craven-produced Dream Warriors and the aforementioned New Nightmare, both of which I actually enjoyed more than the first.

Before even this, however, there was Scream, the film that both celebrated and satirized the genre Craven had helped form. Now, I actually saw the third film in the series first at a sleepover back in 7th or 8th grade, and even though it’s considered the weakest of the series, and though I had no familiarity with the characters to have much context for what was going on, I actually had a good time with it, and I subsequently sought out the rest of the films at the time and enjoyed those even more! During my time as a horror genre-hater, the Scream series remained my one exception whenever horror movies came up as a topic of conversation, as they were more fun than truly terrifying to me. It soon became apparent, however, that I really should see the movies that Scream was deconstructing, and so this actually put the pressure on me to finally give films like the Elm Street movies, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and even The Cabin in the Woods their fair chance. I didn’t always like them, but the process itself has been enjoyable, and I feel like the pressure has certainly given me a new perspective and appreciation for the genre as a whole.

Sadly, Wes Craven suddenly passed away this week after a quiet battle with brain cancer, and I actually felt a pretty great sense of personal loss when I heard the news. I’ve still yet to see other famous films of his like People Under the Stairs and The Hills Have Eyes, but Craven had unbeknownst to me actually cemented himself in my mind as a filmmaker I still greatly appreciated, if only because of his indirect encouragement to branch out in my movie habits. Craven will always be remembered for his work in the horror genre, but instead of reviewing one of those famous horror films, I figured I’d do something a bit different and honor the guy by reviewing his own foray into unfamiliar territory, the often forgotten Music of the Heart, a sentimental based-on-a-true-story drama that has been sitting in my Netflix instant viewing queue for quite a while ever since I randomly glanced at the name “Wes Craven” being tied to a film that had Meryl Streep, Angela Basset, and Gloria Estefan in the film’s poster. Read more…

Review: “Scream”

October 31, 2012 9 comments
Directed by: Wes Craven
Produced by: Cathy Konrad, Cary Woods
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Cinematography by: Mark Irwin
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy, Drew Barrymore, Roger L. Jackson
Year: 1996

 

If there’s any one series of films that have possibly helped to turn me around on my disinterest in the horror genre, it would be the Scream series. Having first seen Scream 3 some time after its release to home video, I became unusually preoccupied by the concept of this meta-heavy horror series. Neither pure satire nor straight up scary movie, Scream appeals to both fans and non-fans of the genre by covering all the tropes, calling out, subverting, and embracing all their idiosyncrasies while referencing past works and still adhering to the genre by becoming a relentless horror film in its own right. Read more…

2011 in Review: The Films I Liked

January 13, 2012 5 comments

As I stated many times over in my overviews of films I didn’t see in 2011, I was a pretty poor person this past year, which limited the number of films I could see in theatres. Luckily, I was able to make up for much of these missed showings through rentals.

Of the films I saw in 2011, few of them were truly bad films. A few were disappointing, many were just about as average as I expected, and a few turned out to be surprises. While none of the films on this list were truly awful in my eyes, not all of them were that remarkable either, with few exceptions. Before I tell you which films I considered to be the worst and which were my favorites, I am once again going to lead you through the year in review of the mostly average films that I actually did see throughout and from 2011 by the time I made this list.

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Review: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010)

October 28, 2011 4 comments
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller
Written by: Wesley Strick & Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Wesley Strick (story)
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Year: 2010

 

I will refrain from mentioning Michael Bay… I will refrain from mentioning Michael Bay… I will refrain from… Oh! Hi! Welcome, my friends, to my final Nightmare on Elm Street review for this Halloween season. We end this streak with something more terrifying than a chainsaw-wielding maniac… more chilling than a ghost who doesn’t know he’s been dead the whole time… more evil than [EXAMPLE]. Today, we examine… A HORROR MOVIE REMAKE. *lightning and thunder*

Today’s feature is the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a modern day revival of that cult classic story that, as we all know by now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but always held a certain level of reverence for, in the same way I do for the Final Fantasy series, and yet I do not play. Read more…

Review: “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”

October 26, 2011 6 comments
Director: Wes Craven
Produced by: Robert Shaye, Wes Craven
Written by: Wes Craven
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Miko Hughes, John Saxon
Music by: J. Peter Robinson
Year: 1994

 

Now explain to me why more horror movies can’t be this much fun and be scary? As a prelude to his Scream series, Wes Craven goes all meta on us with the seventh Nightmare film by folding his universe into the real world with this re-imagining of the formula and the penultimate appearance of Robert Englund as Freddy.

However, I think you’d be hard pressed to figure this in with the rest of the films, even if you include the crossover with the Friday the 13th series (which I haven’t seen and really don’t plan on seeing for a while), as it’s really almost like a spin-off, sidestory, or, if you’re knowledgeable about comic books, an Elsworlds tale! New Nightmare brings back some of the most famous and beloved of the Nightmare actors, including Heather Langenkamp herself, only, this time… she’s playing herself! Read more…

Review: “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”

October 24, 2011 6 comments
Director: Chuck Russell
Produced by: Wes Craven, Robert Shaye
Written by: Wes Craven & Bruce Wagner (also story), Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell (screenplay)
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Robert Englund, Laurence Fishbrune, Priscilla Pointer, Craig Wasson
Music by: Angelo Badalamenti, “Into the Fire” by Dokken
Year: 1987

 


If the first film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series was a metaphor for the perceived innocence of childhood and American suburbia, then the third film kind of represents the opposite side of the same coin, as it centers on the inability of adults to understand the problems their kids are facing and address them accordingly.

Subtitled Dream Warriors, you’d be forgiven for thinking this would be some campy Aliens knock off, with people being jacked into a dream network to take out Freddy Krueger once and for all…. Actually, that kind of sounds awesome. Anyway, no this isn’t that kind of film. Dream Warriors doesn’t repeat the scares and themes of the first film, but rather expands upon them and delves deeper into the mythology. If you were among the people who scolded me for my ignorance of the series and suggested this to me, then, congratulations. You’ve got me. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is not only a pretty good movie, I actually like it better than the first! Read more…

Review: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

October 16, 2011 16 comments
Directed by: Wes Craven
Produced by: Robert Shaye
Written by: Wes Craven
Starring: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
Music by: Charles Bernstein
Year: 1984

 

Take a look at those credits. Notice anyone familiar? Well, aside from horror master Wes Craven, who we’ve already met through his directorial debut, the infamous The Last House on the Left! No, it’s the second to last cast member. … Yup. There he is! Johnny Depp was young enough to play a teenager at the time this movie, his film debut, was made, playing the lead character’s boyfriend.

Seems like a strange way for such a prolific, well respected modern actor to make his debut, but, then again, Kevin Bacon showed up in a similar role in the earlier Friday the 13th, so, maybe not. It’s possibly a shame, then, that they never stuck Depp and Bacon together to fight the two monsters in their inevitable but long delayed Freddy vs. Jason crossover.

Instead, fans of the two rival series were treated to one of the members of Destiny’s Child trying to act and late comedian John Ritter’s son, Jason. What a waste.

Oh no! Now who will Tim Burton cast in his movies!?

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